What could Earth Day and family law matters possibly have in common?  I’m going to make some comparisons and you can decide whether they make any sense.

Earth Day started in 1970 with the idea of engaging individuals in small actions that can improve the future of our planet for future generations.  Even if we couldn’t undo the changes mankind had caused on the earth up to that point, we could make a conscious decision to take action going forward to improve conditions or at least minimize the extent to which we worsen the problem.

When family law clients come to me, they are inevitably a part of a family system that has experienced problems over time.  Usually those problems are severe enough that the adults involved have decided to end their marriage through divorce and dramatically change their family structure.  Like mankind looking the preserving the earth for future generations, my clients can use this decision and the divorce process to make small changes that may make things better (or at least not worse) for themselves, their spouse and their children.  Although I will encourage them to consciously make decisions and take actions with that goal in mind, nobody will force them to do so.

Any actions we take to make the earth a healthier place will benefit future generations and our children, grandchildren, etc. will have the opportunity to reap those benefits and possibly continue the changes we started.  Similarly, any actions that individuals take in the divorce process to decrease the amount of conflict and maybe even attempt to see the situation from their spouse’s viewpoint can make their world and their children’s world a healthier, safer place to live.

Some people could care less about Earth Day or the idea it represents.  They deny that humans have any negative impact on the earth or that we have any responsibility to leave the world a better place for our children.  Maybe they benefit financially from environmentally destructive activities.  Or they see others in the world creating environmental problems and refuse to take any action until others lead the way so they won’t be “disadvantaged.”

Some individuals could care less about the conflict their actions (or words) create or worsen.  Maybe they deny that they have any role in the conflict or they actually enjoy the feelings surrounding that conflict.  Or they see their spouse doing things that create or worsen conflict and refuse to change their ways until he or she changes first.

In both of these situations we can decide, as individuals, whether to change our actions, regardless of whether anybody else changes.  And even if the positive impact would be greater by having everyone change just a little bit, we can only control ourselves so we can be satisfied that regardless of what anyone else does, we have done something to improve the world for future generations – whether that means the entire earth or the small world surrounding our children.

If you live or work in central Pennsylvania, including Carlisle, Harrisburg, Hershey and surrounding communities and would like to discuss any family law or estate planning issue, please contact me.